Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Another Farm Bites the Dust

The conversion of the Lee Farm in Edgewater from farmland to another Harbour Center-sized shopping extravaganza was first covered here in a December 9, 2003 column (Anne Arundel's Flying Circus). Now, it appears that groundbreaking is not far off. The "Village" at Lee Airport is slated to include 13 buildings, 900 parking places, and a 60,000 sq ft grocery store (despite the fact that a Safeway and Giant exist less than a quarter mile away). The developer can also potentially put in 9 additional homes.

Now, a sensible person might ask, "Why, with Annapolis Mall about 7 miles away and Harbour Center about 4 miles away and South River Colony shops about 2 miles away and the Parole redevelopment in the works, do we do we need additional large-scale commercial growth in Edgewater?" He or she might also ask, "Won't these new stores, which will undoubtedly be mostly national chains, also cannibalize existing businesses, both local and chain?" Finally, he or she might ask, "Isn't traffic bad enough in Edgewater as it is?" Inquiring minds have asked the County and its representatives these questions, and scores more, and the County has turned a deaf ear.

What makes this unfortunate situation all the more distressing is that the members of several neighboring community associations essentially collaborated with the developer to change the property's zoning from residential to commercial, out of a fear that the property owners might try to maximize impervious service. My guess is that the local community is going to come to regret this foolish bargain.

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